Writer, Writer, or Writer

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

Serdar and I often discuss what people really want when they write. Many times we encounter people who want to be writers in the I-make-a-living at it, and/or the It’s-my-life-sense. This “writer lifestyle” is a very abstract, boiling down to “some author is famous for some series and makes a living at it.”

Such a vision doesn’t really say much. Writers have to ask what they really want and honestly, and in my experience it’s often not what they think.

A few examples – perhaps ones that will help you.

Want to make writing doing fiction? Well, you might be able to get a hit series you enjoy writing. Or you’re going to have to write your backside off, doing whatever works, targeting your marketing, and still possibly doing it wrong. If you want to write fiction, get ready to rely on luck or demographics – and probably both.

Want to just write for a living? That’s very possible. I know people who do it, but you have to think broadly. Tech writing, training manuals, marketing content, all of that is writing. You’ll need to find what works for you, and then probably still play broad. Also be ready to write some stuff that’s not world-changing or impressive, because someone has to make that powerpoint.

(Seriously, the world needs people that can just communicate, trust me, I’m not joking about the Powerpoints).

Maybe you want to make money. No offense, writing may not be the way to do it, or maybe it’s just part of your work. That’s my case, where writing is a hobby and an edge as a Project Manager, but not exactly the core thing I do. But I make more than a tech writer, and I get to talk very seriously about timelines, but maybe that’s just me who finds that cool.

Maybe you really like the connection of writing, perhaps you like having fans and readers or a writing community. Then write whatever you want as a hobby, do zines, run a writer’s group, do a newsletter on whatever, and so on. If you want community, then focus on community first – yeah a newsletter for historic preservation may not sound cool, but may be satisfying.

Maybe you like helping writers. Your future might be teacher, editor, publisher, etc. Maybe other people’s writing is what really matters, and your own is a hobby or a side thing. Sometimes it’s fun to help things happen for others. It can even pay better.

There’s no real one kind of writer to be, there are many. But you have to ask why writing matters to you and what you want out of it – and all the things associated with it.

Even me, I am asking what my next writing goals are. I enjoy writing, I’m not exactly looking to make it as a career, but I’ve also had multiple indie author stages. It’s good to ask questions about what you want.

And like me, even when you get it, keep asking.

Steven Savage

The Blank Manifesto

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

My friend Serdar and I discussed the Poser Manifesto over at a delightful game blog. He got inspired and began typing away on his own manifesto. Inspired, I thought I too should put my thoughts together (not that it didn’t help that I just got a copy of Breton’s “Manifestos of Surrealism”)

So inspired I then thought about what I truly think as a writer and creative, ready to rant as I always do.

Nothing came. If you know me, NOT having something to say is pretty rare. I mean I don’t even have to have anything to say to spew a lot of words.

I wasn’t sure what to say, how to codify my beliefs. Perhaps it’s been a long day. Maybe I’m tired, but I could not articulate my own artistic vision.

This was pretty terrifying to say the least. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me mentally. Whats more, it was surprising as I’ve been and am pretty creative.

I am on a break with my writing, updating book covers and other projects, but I’m still writing here. Under pen names I experiment with art and zines. I’m always swapping ideas with fellow creatives. You think I’d have something to say, right?

It was terrifying and distracting. There was no rant, no manifesto, no vision in my head. I felt something was missing and I just noticed it.

Then I put the pieces together:

I’m taking a break from my regular writing here. Not surprising as I have “punctuations” in my writing – my career phase, my worldbuilding phase (which may indeed have run its course some 22 books later). I’m on hiatus to see what’s next.

I’m also experimenting in various communities with small press, mashup and surrealist art, and more. I’ve got “projects” but every project is about 50% experiment – it’s play.

I am in a creative transition.

A good manifesto usually needs some framework to put it in. Me, I’ve caught myself between spaces,and simply put I’m still building my new framework. I was the Geek Job Guru. Then I was Worldbuilding Guy. Even if a manifesto is not about a specific subject, it helps to come from a specific person and I’m not exactly specific right now.

I’m not missing something right now. There’s a space between, a space where something new can arrive, where someone new can arrive. I’m awaiting the next me.

He’ll doubtlessly write a manifesto.

Just thinking about it gets them one step closer to being born.

Steven Savage

The Alarms Made Us Deaf

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

I give up on cautionary Science Fiction.

I was having a discussion with my good friend and author Serdar about cautionary SF. The more we discussed it the more I realized we haven’t listened to it, and have become numb to it.

We’re heading towards not-AI-but-close in control of techbros while everyone has our data. The Forbin Project and assorted Cyberpunk novels warned us, and no one paid attention.

Ecological disaster? Been done. What, am I going to read another book or watch another movie, maybe get depressed at a rewatch of Silent Running? I can just look outside, I mean I’m in California?

Political meltdown? Been done, albeit crappily many times, over and over again. No one listened, and a few people think social collapse means we all wear more leather and ride motorcycles.

People sounded the alarm in fiction over and over again and it’s gotten old. The old messages are still relevant in all the classics anyway. We’ve become numb because everyone said what had to be said, and they keep saying it, and worse not in new ways.

Besides, for a cautionary tale I can just read the news. We’re in a constant life lesson we’re pretty bad at learning.

So you want to save the world, change the world, protect the world. Good, someone has to because too many politicians are ignoring the world burning down and would-be geniuses are creating cell phones for hamsters. You’re probably not doing it with cautionary SF as, well, it didn’t work and the messages are oversaturated. That’s if people even listened as opposed to deciding your Hellish Futurescape is cool.

Maybe try a vision instead.

Give me fiction of a better world and the struggle to get there.

Give me a dream of better, of kinder, of smarter, of what we deserve. Give me something to fire my feelings and my imagination and my soul. Kindle a flame with your words and your images and your dream – and let me share that dream.

Give me a blueprint, something, to get there. A signpost might be all I need, or a compass, or a basic map. Set me off, I’ll figure the specifics on the way there.

Yes, maybe give me caution. But do it in a way that keeps me on the path and heading for that future.

We heard all the alarms. They’re still going off. We can’t hear them very well.

But show me where to walk to a place worth going to, and maybe I’ll hear them again, warnings on my journey to something worth traveling to.

Steven Savage